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Jazz Music Legend Chick Corea on Composing with Sibelius

For over half a Century, renowned pianist and composer Chick Corea has been filling our ears, our souls, and our spirits with his distinct sound, from the jazz classic Now He Sings, Now He Sobs to his latest album Two. The 22-time GRAMMY-award winner, a true veteran in the industry and jazz music legend, didn’t develop a passion for music over time. Instead, his love for music—and specifically composing—started at the age most are just learning the basics of reading and writing.

“I’ve been writing music ever since my dad taught me to read and write,” says Chick. “I guess I was around 4 years old. And I’ve always loved composing, even more than playing and performing.”

Already an established musician when Sibelius came on the scene in 1993, Chick says he was quick to capitalize on the benefits of using a computer for music notation and scoring.

“I think I started using Sibelius right about when it first came out,” says Chick. “I found it friendly to use right away, and I keep finding more good uses for it―especially since I keep getting more adept at using it.”

Chick immediately saw how easy it was to create beautiful, captivating scores in a much shorter amount of time with Sibelius. “Well, that’s one of the main points of using a computer for music notation, or it’s supposed to be, which is to get more done in a shorter amount of time,” he says. “Plus, since one can so easily copy and paste and transpose, et cetera—it makes the inputting process much quicker.”

Solo Piano, World Tour 2014

For Chick to create his award-winning sound, he needs a comprehensive package of tools that enable him to compose, edit, play, print, publish, and share music scores. He knows Sibelius meets these needs, which is why he relies on the software for multiple purposes.

“I would say one of the main things Sibelius has helped with is archiving. Keeping an orderly filing of my compositions and arrangements has made my work flow much smoother,” says Chick. “Also, as I become faster at inputting, I can realize a whole project so much faster. This allows me to accept projects that have deadlines that I wouldn’t be able to make without Sibelius.”

C. Taylor Crothers ©2015 Chick Corea Productions

Learn more about how Chick Corea relies on Sibelius to create his award-winning compositions by reading the complete customer story on avid.com.

 

READ THE FULL STORY ON AVID.COM

Express yourself with Sibelius

Create beautiful, captivating scores more quickly than ever before with the world’s best selling notation software.




Sibelius 8.6 Now Available—What’s New

I’m pleased to announce the immediate availability of Sibelius 8.6. This release introduces Magnetic Glissandi, streamlining the creation and manipulation of gliss.port. and wavy lines, as well as fixing a whole host of long standing bugs in Sibelius, improving the stability and overall speed of the program.

 

Magnetic Glissandi

Sibelius automatically places your glissandi lines as you enter them into the score, positioning them between the two notes. As you compose, Sibelius automatically updates the positioning of the glissandi lines, saving you the manual steps of positioning the lines on creation, and subsequently when editing the notes too.

When entering Glissandi lines (Gliss, Port, or Wavy) in your score, you will now find these position themselves between the two notes, and will attach themselves to these notes, following the notehead as you move it. This saves you the manual steps to reposition the lines when creating them, and subsequently with editing the notes too.

The method for entering these lines has changed slightly, but it should feel familiar enough to experienced Sibelius users and is straightforward to grasp for new users. To enter the new gliss.port., or wavy lines, select the note with which you would like to start the line, and choose the line from the Lines gallery. Sibelius will draw the line from the note you have selected, to the next note:

You'll see the line is placed between the note you have selected and the next note.

Lines follow the direction of notes as you edit them.

Sibelius automatically provides more space for rhythm dots and accidentals.

Glissandi lines will even slope upwards or downwards between two notes on the same position on a staff to show the direction the gliss. is going.

Changing the appearance

In Sibelius 8.5, we introduced the new Inspector, which brings relevant settings and features within easy reach and streamlines your workflow in Sibelius. With Sibelius 8.6, we’ve added new features to the Inspector to give you ultimate control over the new glissandi lines. In your score, select a new glissandi line, and open the Inspector (Ctrl+Shift+I/Cmd+Shift+I). You will see the following:

In the Lines section, you now have the following controls:

 

Slide ends: This allows you to fine-tune the precise position of each end of the gliss line.

 

Slide style: Changes the type of line from a Glissando, Portamento, Wavy, or a Line.

 

Slide text: Allows you to toggle the “gliss.” or “port” text that runs along the line. This will happen automatically when the lines get too short to display the text, but you can override this, which is useful in cases where you need to.

If you wish to place a gliss line freely and independently of a note, you may do so by first deselecting anything you have selected (by pressing Escape) and then adding the line from the Lines menu. Since the line you create this way is not attached to any notes, the Inspector controls that are available for magnetic gliss lines are not available.

 

Creating multiple glissandi lines at once

Creating multiple gliss lines at once is fast and simple to achieve with Sibelius 8.6. In previous versions, you had to add the line manually, and then adjust each one by hand. If you then changed the notes, the line would then need to be manually positioned again. Now it’s really easy:

Select the notes you’d like to add the lines to, go to Lines, and choose the type of line you need:

You can then use the Inspector to toggle the text off:

Customizing lines

If you need to move the ends of the lines, you can manually reposition them by dragging one using your mouse or selecting it and making fine adjustments using your keyboardAs you make further edits to the notes, the line will retain its relative position to the notehead to which it is attached. This is useful when indicating the gliss should go to a different note in the chord, say, or even when writing passages across a grand staff with cross-staff beaming. Once this has been done, you’ll see the lines move relative to the notes as you edit them. To reset the line’s ends to their default position, select the line and go to Appearance > Design and Position > Reset Position.

Creating your own lines in Sibelius is easy as well. You simply go to Notations > Lines > Edit Lines, and then choose the line you’d like to edit or to create a new line from. In the cases of the Gliss or Port lines, you can change the text that runs along the line, to whatever you need:

Any custom lines that you have created based on gliss lines receive the same treatment from the Inspector allowing you to edit them in the same manner as the ones that Sibelius provides by default.

 

Additional tweaks for writing for guitar notation

Slides, up until now, have always been able to play back a continuous slide (that is, if you slid your finger up a fretless guitar), but from Sibelius 8.6, you’ll be able to change the way these play back from the Inspector:

Opening old scores in Sibelius 8.6

Sibelius will open any score from Sibelius v1 all the way through to Sibelius 8. These will open up in exactly the same way as before and will not move or convert any gliss. lines. This is important to retain the same careful layout you’ve spent so much time on. However, adding further glissandi to your score in Sibelius 8.6 will now create the new style of line.

 

Opening scores from 8.6 in older versions of Sibelius

As ever, Sibelius has a way to convert a score into an older version, allowing you to work with someone who hasn’t upgraded to Sibelius 8.6 yet. This is simply done by going to File > Export > Previous Version and choosing the version of Sibelius you need to export to.

When doing this, Sibelius will convert what it can into the equivalent object that was supported by the previous version. In the case of the new glissandi lines, these are all converted into the old style gliss. line and their positions are retained.

 

New ManuScript support for magnetic lines

In Sibelius’ built-in scripting language, called ManuScript, Line objects now have a new <code>SlideStyleId</code> variable representing the Line style state of the note. This read/write variable lets you attach or detach glissandi as well as other lines to a note.

You can also define and assign additional custom Line styles that are not based on the available default Line styles (see Line styles in the ManuScript Language Guide for more information).

 

MusicXML improvements

The new Magnetic Glissandi lines feature was borne out of an overall improvement and better support for MusicXML. It’s a long term project that we will chip away at for a while. When we started to work on adding support for importing glissandi lines, we needed a way to position these nicely to notes. As such, we rewrote how these lines are handled, so there is now very minimal cleanup to do after importing MusicXML files.

Here’s a summary for the changes to MusicXML that are included in Sibelius 8.6:

• Better support for small staves (improvements on support added into Sibelius 8.5)

• Sibelius now imports page margin values correctly (in previous versions, margins form odd pages were applied onto even pages, and vice versa)

• Ties are now no longer missing in chords over bar lines, and the direction of ties are respected (over or under)

We’ve also made several improvements to the way MusicXML files are parsed in general. As we all know, not all MusicXML files are created equally, so Sibelius 8.6 is now less prone to crashing or failing in some way when opening malformed MusicXML files.

 

Improvements to many long-standing issues

As well as introducing new features and new ways to work in Sibelius, we are working on some old and hard-to-crack issues to improve Sibelius’ stability and overall performance. Some of these may be small niggling bugs and others will be larger scale issues that may have been getting in the way. Here’s the list of what’s included under the hood in the 8.6 upgrade:

 

General

• Sibelius is now over 10% faster starting up

Auto-save now works much more reliably. This is the feature where Sibelius will periodically save a copy of your score. If Sibelius unexpectedly quits, Sibelius will now recover the most recent version of the file, and hopefully won’t have lost too much work. To set how often Sibelius auto-saves, go to File > Preferences > Saving and Exporting.

• When opening older scores in Sibelius 8.6, rests in parts are now where you expect them to be positioned

• Sibelius no longer crashes when doing ‘Paste as Cue’ followed by ‘Undo’. This only occurred when pasting across different time signatures

• When sliding notes from one page to the next, your selection is now followed so it’s clearer to see what’s happening

Annotating when the Inspector the is open is now muchsmoother

• Improvements to the licensing engine, which should result in fewer “Error Initializing License Engine” messages

Editing values and navigating fields in the Inspector is now easier

• The Inspector now resizes vertically when undocked

• There’s now better spacing between a key signature and start repeat barline when there is no time signature

 

Windows

• A rare issue that would cause Sibelius to crash when installed alongside Pro Tools with certain HD hardware is now fixed.  Click here for more information on this.

• We’ve improved the overall handling of audio devices on Windows. Sibelius now initialises the audio engine even in the presence of minor errors coming from the audio device driver.

MP3 export works as expected on Mac OS 10.9 once more

 

Mac

• Characters created with Shift + Option + <number> shortcuts are no longer doubled

• When editing text  with Shift + Option + Left/Right Arrow no longer deletes the text you’re editing

• Editing text in the Backstage (Score Info, dialog boxes etc.) with Shift + Option + Left/Right Arrow no longer deletes text as you do it

• Sibelius will no longer hang when attempting to play back to a disconnected audio device

 

Application Manager

Application Manager 17.5 is now included with Sibelius, which introduces a new Open button enables you to open Sibelius directly from the Apps tab. The Open button only appears if you have an active Avid Upgrade and Support plan or subscription, and Sibelius is up to date.

The following improvements have also been included:

• Application Manager no longer randomly opens a terminal window on Mac

• Choosing to restart App Man Helper in the Preferences tab is now nice and quick

 

Customers with an active upgrade plan or subscription can update to Sibelius 8.6 using Application Manager or by downloading the installer from their Avid Account. If you have an older version of Sibelius and wish to upgrade, you can do so via one of our resellers or our online webstore.

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Composing for Film, TV and Games with John Paesano

John Paesano is a composer, producer, conductor, and arranger for film, television, video games, and records. A longtime Sibelius and Pro Tools user, I recently spoke with Paesano about his career, current projects, and the workflows he employs to bring his scores to life.

DH: Bring me up to speed with what projects you’re working on—what’s currently on your plate?

JP: I’m working on The Defenders, which is Marvel’s new Netflix series featuring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. I’m finishing the third installment of The Maze Runner, which is called The Death Cure, and I’m scoring the sequel to Pacific Rim for Legendary. I just finished Mass Effect Andromeda, which is an Electronic Arts videogame releasing in March. So, yeah, I’ve been busy!

 

DH: Tell me a little bit about your background and how got into the business?

JP: I kind of reversed engineered myself into film scoring. A lot of peers that I’ve worked with fell into film scoring. They were in a band and the touring dried up, and they had a buddy who was a commercial producer and they scored a commercial for them, which ultimately lead to scoring films. When I was a kid I saw the movie Empire of the Sun, and said, “Boom, that’s it, that’s what I want to do!” At the time I didn’t know that I wanted to get into composition, but I knew I wanted to get into film somehow. I didn’t even play an instrument—I was just a big fan of movies. The one thing you could buy from the movies, back then, was the soundtrack. I bought the soundtrack and fell in love with John Williams’ score for Empire of the Sun, and that sent me on a path to aim towards film scoring.

So I got into music knowing that I wanted to score films and always had that goal in mind. I grew up right outside of Detroit where I started studying piano. From there I went to Berklee College of Music. Berklee and USC were the two programs in the United States at that time that offered degrees in film scoring. It wasn’t as popular as it is now. So I went to Berklee before moving to LA, where I just started carving out my own career. I briefly worked at Zimmer’s place, Remote Control, but knew I had to try to start my own career. In this town it feels like people don’t really care who you work for—they want to know what you’ve done personally. At a certain point I had to jump ship from the assistant ranks and start from the beginning to cobble together my own credits. I built from the ground up, and ten, twelve years later, started making some headway. [Laughs] So, it’s a long road.

DH: What would you point to as far as your first major project that helped to launch your career to a higher level?

JP: I don’t know if I would call it major, but the first film that got me into the studio system—pretty much anything that a larger audience was able to see—was a direct-to-DVD movie called Another Cinderella Story, which actually did really well. It was a family drama starring Selena Gomez, and that was the first thing that got me involved in the studio system. The first wide-release theatrical film that I did was The Maze Runner, which had a big impact on my career on the feature side.

On the episodic side, I did the television version of DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon (I’m actually still doing it). I was fortunate to win an Annie Award for that, for Best Score, which gave me some headway, as well. So it was a combination of projects—not just one major project that helped. Like I said, it was a long haul, 10-12 years. By doing these smaller projects that had more visibility in the industry than they did, let’s say, in the public, that got me into the conversation for starting to do bigger projects. It was little stepping stones, then it was a slow crawl, but it eventually got some traction.

DH: So over your career the technology has obviously changed. What has been the progression for you over the years?

JP: When I started, my training was very paper-and-pencil oriented, but when I graduated high school in ’96 computers started coming into play. When I was in college, samplers and synth mockups started factoring in, so in a way I grew up alongside them. The curve in which the progression has happened with technology has been through the roof. It has progressed on such a large scale, to the point, that now it’s hard to even keep up with it all. I’ve always been a huge fan of how technology can help music, and it’s one thing that kept me motivated, especially going into film scoring. When you’re a kid and you want to become a film composer, especially at the time when I wanted to do it, you had to figure out a way to write orchestral music without an orchestra. And the one way you could do that was, obviously, with the technology and the samplers.

So I dove into it with both feet, because I had a desire to create that cinematic sound but obviously didn’t have the funds to hire an orchestra when I was 16, 17, 18 years old. So I had to figure out alternative ways to play my music- to kind of fake it, if you will. I researched how to use the technology to get that sound. I think it served me well, as when I came out to LA I had to put together a reel of music that could compete with these guys that had the resources to record live players. Whether you liked it or not, those were the guys you were competing with, or trying to get executives to listen to you on the same level as.

I really took pride in getting my mockups to sound as realistic as possible, to try to secure those jobs and give people an idea of what my music was going to sound like when recorded live. Even to this day, we try to use the latest and greatest gear when it comes to mockups.

DH: How did you first come across Sibelius?

JP: We did a trailer project a while back, and I was introduced to it by a couple of orchestrators in London. I think this was even before Avid had acquired it. I just liked the layout. When you compare Sibelius to Finale, it’s like what Apple did when they came out with their operating system. It made more sense to me and everything lined up—the layout made a lot more sense. It’s one of those programs you could turn on and just start using it without having to dive through a 900-page manual. It was just very intuitive, and it fit my writing process very well. Then when Avid took it and incorporated it into the Pro Tools world it became very streamlined- it just made it that much better.

A couple years ago I was using one system for my sequencing, another for my notation, and another for my recording. Speed has become such an important factor in this business, especially with film scoring. You need to quickly get something down, get it recorded and get it out to the players. I wanted to streamline my workflow, and Pro Tools and Avid have all the tools there that I needed. Once we got that into place, everything got stepped up to the next level, which allowed me to think more musically and less about the tools that I was using. By using the Avid products, it allowed me to simply think about the music, and everything else was there in place. I had just one system for everything, so it definitely helped.

DH: Take me through your compositional process—give me kind of an overview of how you and your team work.

JP: It’s slightly different for every project, but for the most part the broad strokes are the same. If I can get the script beforehand I’ll write a 10- to 15-minute-long suite based on just the script. Sometimes filmmakers send production art, any type of information they have about the film, or series, or game. I try to gather as much as I can so I can write something before I even see the picture. Sometimes when you write to picture, you get handcuffed—you can’t extend yourself musically as much as you would want to, just because you’re trying to work around dialogue. Or you’re limited by time in a scene. You might not be able to get a full thought out musically, because the scene doesn’t allow for it. So, sometimes coming up with those musical ideas before you have the picture is more creative in that it allows you to work out more full musical ideas.

I typically get the picture with a couple of temp tracks, and I’ll watch it in Pro Tools while creating notes along the timeline- spotting notes. This is before I have my official spotting session with the director and the producer. I try to watch the movie as many times as possible, to absorb it as much as I can.

From that point, I get together with the producer and the director—or, if it’s episodic stuff—the showrunners and the producers, and do an in-depth spotting session. It’s almost more important where there isn’t music than where there is music. Figuring out that roadmap to the film becomes a very important part of the process. I then go into Pro Tools for the writing phase, and start filling in those notes with musical ideas.

I usually start in Sibelius at a piano which allows me that “paper-and-pencil” mentality. We don’t really use paper-and-pencil anymore; we use Sibelius-and-piano. [Laughs] So, that allows me to write exactly what I’m hearing, and it allows me to get it down on “paper” right away, in a quick fashion. Then it’s from Sibelius into Pro Tools for the mockup process to start getting it into a form that I can present to the producers, directors, and studios.

Then I take those ideas from the original suite and start throwing them against the picture, and working them into the actual film.

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I mean, the frames of the pictures will really let you know if your initial ideas are going to work or not. Once you start throwing music up against the actual movie you see if those original ideas that you had before you had the picture are going to actually work. It’s all about trying to massage those ideas into the actual film. And that’s probably the longest process; the writing of the actual score, and getting that in place.

Once the cues are approved we go into the recording process. We take all the elements of the score and replace or combine them with the live players. Sometimes we replace the entire synth orchestra with the live orchestra. Sometimes, if I want a big hybrid sound, we keep some or all synth elements and put the live players on top of it to produce a bigger sound.

Back in the day you would replace everything, because the synth mockups sounded like crap. But now, because the sampling has gotten so good, you keep a lot of it and the orchestra becomes another color you use to add to the score. So, whether it’s an orchestra, or whether it’s soloists, or any number of electronic sounds, this is when we gather all of these elements together for the mix in Pro Tools. After it’s all completed, done, mixed, and shipped off to the stage for the dub, we call it a day.

DH: So if you’re putting an orchestral score together, are you actually working out the parts in Sibelius, or are you focusing on the main themes, and then fleshing them out in Pro Tools?

JP: Parts, not completely broken-down like it would be for live orchestra, but I’ll have a woodwinds patch—I won’t necessarily have flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons. I’ll just use winds, grouped shorts and longs, but I’ll have the major food groups there: woods, strings, brass; sometimes it’s just a piano score. But I tend, for inspiration, to work through, in a more simplistic way, the musical ideas within Sibelius, and from there, transfer it into Pro Tools where I get a more detailed.

And then when it goes to the orchestrators, it gets really detailed, because sometimes we’re moving at such a quick clip, I might not have time to write out all the woodwind parts, and so I’ll leave instructions to my orchestrators like, “Hi, look at the string part, here. I want the winds to double this little motion, right here.” It truly is a team effort to get the full score completely together, and everyone has their own imprint on it.

My orchestrators might look at my string part and go, “Hey John, I see what you’re doing, here, but the voicings, here might feel a little thick, so maybe try spreading some stuff out, like this.” And they’ll clean some stuff up, and get it ready. Or sometimes I’ll have my French horns holding for three bars, and the player would die and pass out if he did that in real life, so we might try to exchange that stuff throughout the different voices, and different instruments groups. So they do go through and make sure that the music that I’m thinking of in my head is actually playable for the group, when it’s there on the recording day.

And I wouldn’t say that I start in one program, move to another program, and then I never go back again. Sometimes I’m going back and forth. If inspiration strikes while I’m at home I can pop open Sibelius on my laptop and work with some voicings, or try to introduce a new part. And then I get back to the studio the next day and import it into the session, so they’re kind of being used at tandem at all times.

 

DH: What sound library do you generally use within Sibelius?

JP: In Sibelius, I’m using a lot of the stock stuff for general sketching. My orchestra that I use at the studio is Orchestral Tools, and I try to stick to one sample library. Orchestra under the Orchestral Tools stuff has been great, because it was all recorded in the same spot. It’s a really well-thought-out library, and they pretty much cover every articulation. Sometimes I have Sibelius trigger those sounds through Vienna Ensemble Pro. But if I’m at home, or if I’m on the road, or if I’m just sitting at the piano, the factory sounds that come with it work well.

Wallander NotePerformer is the library that I purchased that gives flexibility when it comes to playing back some of the parts. It’s really a fantastic tool. But if I want to start getting into the mockup portion, I haven’t gotten to the point where I can write notes in—if you really want the most realistic sound, you almost have to fake it. You’ve got to maneuver around the mockup, or, maneuver what I did in Sibelius, and bring it into Pro Tools, and slide some notes around, and do some things to fake what it actually looks like on paper. And then it goes back to the orchestra, and they just put it back to the way I had it originally. It’s getting close—we’re almost at the point where we can just write down in Sibelius, and have it sound exactly the way it sounds live.

DH: So tell me a bit more about your operation, how big is your team?

JP: It’s myself, two assistants, and then a second-in-command who deals with a lot of the programming and additional writing, Braden Kimball. Depending on the schedules there are people I can call upon to help with programming or orchestration, and as I said before these guys are vital to the process.

 

DH: How long have you had a proper studio of your own?

JP: This will be my fifth year. I have five rooms, and my orchestrators work offsite. Alan Meyerson does the majority of my mixing, and he’s a big Avid guy over at Hans’ [Zimmer] place Remote Control. We ship all of our stuff over there when we’re done in Pro Tools. We just dump it right into his template here at the studio, and then it gets shipped over to his place, and he just pops it open in his room, and he’s got a big S6 [studio console].

DH: How do your schedules and deadlines vary between doing music for film, for TV, and games?

JP: The deadlines for each project have their own challenges. With film, you definitely have more time to experiment, to try different things and fail a bunch of times before you get it right. But it’s all relative. Just because you have that luxury, it still makes the timeline feel pretty tight, because you go through that “idea” process for a while and yet you’re always rushing towards the end. It’s one of those things where, if people feel like they have more time, they spend more time experimenting.

On episodic series, producers know they’re on a quick timeline so they adjust their expectations. Network television seems to have the quickest turnaround. You’re chasing airdates and moving at a really quick clip. Netflix, however, feels more like a very long movie because the whole series releases on the same day. That allows us more flexibility in the schedule, to go back into things. So the subscription service stuff that I’ve worked on—Defenders, Daredevil, How to Train Your Dragon—seems like you’re moving at a slightly faster film pace.

Videogames are a whole different ballgame because you’re never really writing to picture; you’re writing to instructions. The game developers and the audio directors give you descriptions of what they’re looking for and how they want to incorporate the music from a technical side. So it’s a more delicate dance of writing the music so that, not only does it fit to the picture, but it actually fits into the gameplay and how they want to incorporate it from the programming standpoint. The timeline on videogames is more closely based to a film timeline. There’s a lot of trial and error, there’s a lot of experimenting. They’re trying it in their gameplay, saying, “Oh, you know, these four layers are working really well, but we want one other. Can you make us three little, you know, hits that we can incorporate every single time the character does a certain action?” So it’s piece-mealing little musical ideas together, and at the end it all comes together as one piece of music.

I always talk about speed and how you have to be set up to move quickly. We’re creating anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours’ worth of music for these projects, and many are done in three to four months. If you think about how long some bands work on albums; they’re working for six months, or a year or two years for 30-40 minutes of music. When you compare it to that world, we’re moving at a really quick pace. The only way to do it is with the technology that’s involved today. It’s been a blessing and a curse [laughs] in many ways, because it’s given us the ability to create music at a fast clip, but it also lets those producers and directors know that we can create it at that fast clip, so they expect and demand it.

I tell young composers that come in that the principal instrument should be the sequencer, and then your secondary instrument is whatever you grew up playing. But that sequencer is an instrument, and it should be a really well-versed instrument, something that every composer should be really well in-tune with, because it is one of the most important tools that you use on a daily basis. Whether it’s Pro Tools or Sibelius or all of the above, it’s really important to know how to use them to the fullest capabilities, because that’s what helps you meet that expectation.

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Three Things: Lines

It is always great to learn new techniques that speed up your workflow in an application you’ve been using for a while isn’t it?  In this series of blog posts, I’m going to stick to three things on a topic that I believe will help speed up your work flow.

 

Let’s get to the bottom line!

Lines can really clarify the ‘what’s and where’s’ of your instructions on a score and in the parts.

Let’s look at some tips that show you how to create your custom lines and how to get all those lines exactly where you want them!

 

One: Custom lines are fun!

Creating custom lines is not difficult, it only takes a few steps and you will be off and running.

It’s important to know that, like text, lines can be either staff attached or system attached. Go Notations Tab > Lines and click the edit box.

The lines on the left are “Staff Lines” and only appear on the staff you attached them to. The lines on the right are “System Lines” and will appear on the staves of every instrument in your score. So when you are creating your own custom lines it’s important that you start with a line that is the same type as the one you are creating.  If you are creating a line that says “fill” for a drum part, start with a line on the left.  If you creating a line that says “Accel. until conductor throws his hands in the air like he just don’t care!” you would want to start with a line on the right.

To create the fill line you may be tempted to start with the 8va line as it is dashed and has hook at the end. But don’t, it’s important to note that whatever playback parameters your original line has, your new line will have as well. To start let’s scroll down to the ‘Dashed line,’ click on it once to select it and click the New button and then Yes to answer the ‘Are you sure…’ prompt.

You will see the window below, it’s important to give your line a name, I’ll show you why later. For this line I want the line to start to the right of text, so I’ll check that. For ‘Start’ click on Text and Edit. In the edit window type in ‘fill’ for the text and for the text style I have selected Technique because I want it to match the other technique text in my score. For the end, I want a downward hook. So I clicked on Hook and entered a value of -1 for spaces up (which gives me one space down).

When you are done click Ok to close the window and finish up. You now see the fill line in the column on the left. Back in the lines window of the Notations Tab, you will find your new line in the ‘Lines’ section because you started with the Dashed line. If you had started with the accelerando line in the right column, and made the “Accel. until the conductor…” line, it would appear in the Rit. and Accel. section.

Two: Position

When you select a region on your score and apply a line is appears at the position as defined in Design and Position settings. Here is a tip to get the line’s length exactly where you want it.

If you click anywhere in the measure, as in the example below, Sibelius will select the whole bar right up to and including the next barline. If you then apply your new fill line, you will see it extends into the next bar.

However, if you constrain the selection by clicking once on the first slash and then shift clicking the fourth slash in the bar, you will now be selecting everything before the next barline. Now when you apply the bar line it neatly ends before the next barline.

To adjust the default placement of any line, go to the Appearance Tab > Design & Position and click on the edit box in the lower right corner. Click on the lines button, scroll down and you will see that it’s a good thing you named your fill line because there it is!

I’ve adjusted the Vertical position relative to staff to 4. Also if you’d like that line to pull back just a bit further from the end of your selection, type a negative number into Creating Lines Horizontal position of right hand end. Here you can see the differences in the line’s vertical placement and end point.

Three: Between notes

If you’ve ever tried to place a line between two notes heads, you know that exact placement can be a bit tricky. Thanks to a great plug-in called ‘Line Between Notes’ (by plug-in guru Bob Zawalich), you can now make quick work of this. You can install this plug-in by going to File Tab > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Show All Plug-ins > Lines.

It works very simply. Select the two notes you would like to connect and run the plug-in.

Choose your line type and click OK. You can explore all the options but the defaults work well for me. You now have a perfectly placed line. I use this one so often I have it on a keyboard shortcut.

So go have some fun making lines in Sibelius!

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Three Things: Articulations

It is always great to learn new techniques that speed up your workflow in an application you’ve been using for a while isn’t it?  In this series of blog posts, I’m going to stick to three things on a topic that I believe will help speed up your work flow.

 

The Long and short of it

Articulations allow you to communicate to your musicians precisely, the shape of notes in your score. In Sibelius you can enter articulations as or after you enter notes via the keypad. But you know all of that! Here are three tips that perhaps you don’t know.

 

One: Position and symbols

The position of articulations as they appear in your score are controlled by the settings in the Engraving rules.  If you go to Appearance Tab > Engraving Rules > Articulation you will see this window:

You’ll see check boxes that control the position of articulations in relation to the staff, noteheads, slurs and tuplets. You will also see horizontal and vertical position settings. In my work for commercial style charts, I keep all my articulations above the staff. For symphonic work, I uncheck the ‘Always above’ so the articulations are on the notehead side (opposite from the stem), which could place the articulation either above or below the staff.

The red arrow points to a half open high hat symbol I often use. You probably won’t see this if you open your Engraving rules. This is a custom articulation. You will see there are 3 slots for custom articulations, the first to the left of the staccato, the second after the down bow, and the third where you see my open high hat. Here is how to set up your own custom articulation:

Got to Notations Tab > Symbols > Edit box

You will see in the row of articulation symbols my half open high hat symbol in the slot for “Articulation above (unused).’ The order of the symbols is the same as the order of the articulations in the Engraving rules. Here you can define what symbols are used for the custom articulations and you can also change the symbol for any of the default articulations as well.

Note there are slots for articulation above and below for each symbol.

 

To apply this custom articulation, go to the fourth keypad and press the * key.

Two: Inputting more than one articulation at a time

You can apply articulations to more then one note at a time. In this example, I’ve selected the first two notes in all of the horns and can now apply the marcato to all of them in one keystroke.

Another strategy I often use is to apply all the articulations and slurs to one instrument for a passage in the score, in this example trumpet 1. Select the articulated region for trumpet 1 and press command C for copy (the selection is now copied to the clipboard). Next select all the other horn parts in that region. Next run the Copy Articulations and Slurs plug-in. This plug-in refers to the contents of the clipboard and applies the same articulations and slurs to the selected instruments.

Now all these instruments will have the same articulation as the trumpet 1 staff. You find the Copy Articulations and Slurs plug-in in the Note Input Tab > Plugins > Notes and Rests. I use this almost daily, so I have this plug-in assigned to a keyboard shortcut.

 

Three: Playback

Sibelius has well thought out settings for the playback of articulations but perhaps you’d like to tweak them a bit, I know I do! Go to Play Tab > Interpretation > Dictionary.

Next click on the Articulations tab and for this example I will select Marcato. I prefer the playback dynamics of this articulation to be a bit softer and the duration a bit shorter than the default settings.  So I am going to change the dynamic and attack to 105% from the default of 135%. Also I need to check ‘Adjust duration to’ and set it to 65%. Click OK and I’m done. Now the playback of notes with the marcato articulation will reflect these changes.

For some instruments there is change in the sound used for playback of certain articulations. If you really want to dig in, you can change the sound id, associated with those articulations from this same window.

With these tips under your belt, you are all set to get your articulations looking and sounding just the way you like them!

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Three Things: Beaming

It is always great to learn new techniques that speed up your workflow in an application you’ve been using for a while isn’t it?  In this series of blog posts, I’m going to stick to three things on a topic that I believe will help speed up your work flow.

 

Beam me up!

Beaming of notes, when properly done, can make the rhythmic content of a passage much easier to sight read. There will be many times when you want to change the default beaming in your score, depending on the content. Let’s look at three ways to do just that.

 

One: One beam at a time

When you have a single instance of beaming that needs to be changed going to keypad 3 will do the trick. You can do all sorts of custom beaming including beaming across rests and beaming across barlines. In the example below, I want to beam the two sixteenth notes and the eight note. Click on the second sixteenth note and press the 9 key on your keypad.

Now you have this:

Select the eighth note and do the same procedure and you are all set!

Explore the other options on this keypad for other beaming options, including stemlets and beaming across rests. When rests are involved, click on the rest to select it and then press the key for the beam.

Two: A custom beaming for a region

Using keypad 3 is fine for an instance or two, but what if you want to change a lengthy region to a new beaming pattern? There is a way to quick achieve this!

Let’s look at this example. Here is the default beaming for 9/8. This phrase is pulsing on the first, fourth, sixth and eighth, eight notes.

Let’s assume this pattern continues for 16 bars and you would like to rebeam as a group of three and three groups of two. That could take you quite a while rebeaming using keypad 3.

But you can rebeam all of these bars in one simple procedure.

Select all the measures in the region you want to change. Then go to Appearance Tab > Reset Notes > Beam Groups.

In the edit box marked “Group 8ths (quavers) as:” you will see the default is 3,3,3.

Set the new grouping to 3,2,2,2. The only rule here is the total must add up to nine.

You could set it to 2,3,2,2 or 1,1,1,6 etc whatever you are looking for. For our example it should look like the example above, then click OK, and you will have the example below.

If you later decide that you want to reset these to default beaming, select the region and go to

the Appearance Tab > Design and Position > Reset > Design and the beaming will go back to the default for the time signature, which is a good segue to tip number three!

 

Three: Time signatures with custom beaming

While I was in college I had the great opportunity to study arranging and composing with noted jazz composer Hank Levy. If you know anything about Hank from his work with the Stan Kenton and Don Ellis orchestras, his specialty was composing in “exotic” meters. The title piece in the movie “Whiplash” is one of his compositions. Once you get over the panic of having to read in 13/8 or 7/4, you will realize that Hank notated these charts so they are very easy to read. The key is grouping the eight notes to pulse of the groove. In the example above, 9/8 is divided in to 3,2,2,2. What Hank would do is beam the eight notes just as I have above if that is the pulse.

So if you are wondering, “If I know from the beginning of the composing process what my beaming and note grouping should be, can I set up Sibelius so it automatically follows that pattern as I input notes?” Yes you can! Here is how to setup 9/8 to group as 3,2,2,2.

Go to Notations Tab > Common > Time Signature. This window comes up and you need to click on ‘More Options’ in the bottom left corner.

In this window, click of radio button for the meter you require or input the meter you need in the Other: edit box, in our example 9/8. Then click on Beam and Rest Groups…

This window will look very familiar from tip two in this blog post.

You have probably figured out, you need to change the “Group 8ths (quavers) as:” default 3,3,3 to 3,2,2,2 or whatever grouping you need. Click OK to close this window, click OK to close the next window. Your cursor will turn blue and is now ‘loaded’. Click on bar one or where ever you need the new time signature and it will appear there. Now as you input notes and rests, they will adhere to this beam grouping.

Now there is no reason not to have your notes beamed just the way you like!

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Sibelius 8.5 Now Available—What’s New

We’re excited to introduce and announce the immediate availability of Sibelius 8.5. In this release, we’ve upgraded the Inspector panel and built on the features we introduced in Sibelius 8.4, where we added the ability to have four independent staff sizes.

If you have a current license for Sibelius 8 with an upgrade plan or current subscription, you will get a notification on screen from the Application Manager. Alternatively, you can find the new installer waiting for you in your My Avid account.

Here’s an overview of what’s new:

 

Inspector

Part of the overall vision we have for the way you work in Sibelius, looks at minimizing features being hidden away in menus and dialogs, and presenting them in a clean and feature-packed Inspector panel. This will allow you to select an object in the score and see all the properties and possibilities for editing that object. Sibelius 8.5 is our first foray into this, by adding the new Staff size options, and we’ve smartened up the Inspector to give it a clean and modern look.

Click to see how the new Inspector compares with the old

The main area we’ve improved on is the Text section. To help explain and guide the user, there are now useful graphics to indicate the sorts of things you’re capable of doing to any given piece of text. The other sections have been smartened up to align tick boxes, feature labels and controls to give the Inspector the professional look you have come to expect.

The Inspector now also behaves like other panels. You can invoke it from the Home tab, as before, but also from the View > Panels section of the Ribbon:

The Inspector will appear docked on the left of your main Sibelius window. You can pull this off and dock to on the right, or if you prefer, you can leave it floating; useful if you have a second monitor. When undocked, you can resize the Inspector by dragging out the bottom edge. Sibelius will populate the Inspector with features and controls that are only relevant for the item or items you have selected. For example, the Scale % only appears when you have a Chord diagram selected. The contents of the Inspector will sometimes be too tall for it to contain all the controls, so a scrollbar will appear on the right hand side to allow you to find what you need easily. Each section can be collapsed up too, so you can hide controls you aren’t using at that time.

 

Multiple staff sizes on breaks

One such example of driving features and workflows to the Inspector is our new Multiple Staff Sizes feature. When you make a passage or system selection in your score, you’ll now see this new dropdown in the Inspector:

  • Select just one bar in your score, and changing the staff size will expand the selection to the whole system and change the staff size of that system.
  • If you have two or more bars selected, Sibelius will put a System Break at each end of the selection and change the size of the bars in that system.
  • Changing the staff size even works on individual bars, allowing you to have a smaller bar, say, at the beginning of your score—useful for defining the various handbells needed in a piece of music [see updated Handbells (2 staves) manuscript paper], or create a snippet of music that appears completely independently from the rest of the music:

Example showing how a snippet of music can now be shown with an extra small staff that’s independent of the stave above.

The new control of the staff sizes allows you to change individual bars, whole systems of one or more instruments, large passages of music, or entire pages at a time. This example, kindly provided by Bill Holab, demonstrates exactly what this new feature can be best used for:

Excerpt from The Manchurian Candidate Music by Kevin Puts, Libretto by Mark Campbell Copyright © 2014 by Aperto Press and Mark Campbell. Sole Agent: Bill Holab Music Used by Permission.

Guidance notes from Bill Holab:

  • The full score has an optional keyboard part (only played when a vibraphone isn’t available in the percussion section). That’s on a smaller staff on the first 3 pages.
  • Page 1 is normal size, but pp. 2-3 need more vertical space, so I made them “small” and made the keyboard “extra small”.
  • Page 4 goes back to normal, then page 5 is “Medium.” Page 6 is normal, and the keyboard part is no longer optional, so it’s standard size.

 

Sibelius | First and Avid Scorch for iOS

I wrote recently about the changes to how we’re building our applications. The main Sibelius codebase now feeds Sibelius | First, Avid Scorch, Sibelius Cloud Publishing and our Sibelius License Server too. For each release of Sibelius, we have the ability to build all our other applications and solutions at the same time, giving us the option to release updates to them as well. For Sibelius 8.5, we’re pleased to also release updates to Sibelius | First, Avid Scorch and Sibelius Cloud Publishing.

  • The Sibelius | First update is available at no extra cost to all those with Sibelius | First 8 with a valid support plan or subscription. Head over to your My Avid account to download the update.
  • Our Avid Scorch iOS is available on the iTunes app store, where you’ll find the latest version waiting for you to download.
  • Sibelius Cloud Publishing is a service for music publishers to help them sell sheet music online. You will have noticed the scores above are interactive, and are powered by Sibelius Cloud Publishing, which is built and kept up to date with the Sibelius 8.5 codebase. If you publish music online, or would like to, please visit our website to find out more.

 

Further improvements in Sibelius 8.5

During the development of Sibelius 8.5, we’ve been able to squeeze in good collection of improvements and fixes that have come up either on the forum, directly to us, through our support team or elsewhere. Here’s a summary of what else the upgrade has in store for you:

Improvements since Sibelius 8.4

  • It’s now possible to change Normal staff size to a smaller value then Medium staff size value in Engraving Rules. Smaller staff sizes all decrease so you can no longer get these out of order.
  • We’ve made dialog appearance improvements to Engraving Rules > Staves with 200% DPI scaling on Windows with high pixel density displays.
  • Making a change to a staff size in Engraving rules, and then clicking OK (without having unfocused the staff size spin box) now makes the change in your score.
  • Tuplet brackets and numbers now scale neatly when working with smaller staff sizes.
  • Instrument changes from unpitched to pitched instruments now create key signatures automatically.
  • MIDI input works once more after changing from an unpitched to pitched instrument.
  • Cancelling out of Document Setup now cancels the unit selection you may have made.
  • On Retina displays, some text fields in several dialogs are no longer too short, for example in the File tab > Score info dialog.
  • In Sibelius’ Manuscript plug-in language, note.Deselect() deselects entire parent NoteRest when it should just deselect that note.

 

Further general improvements

  • The version number now briefly appears on the splash screen once more as it did previously in 7.5, so you can quickly verify the version of Sibelius you’re launching on startup.
  • The Save As dialog on macOS now correctly remembers the current file name and last path saved, so that you don’t have to navigate to the correct location every time.
  • Sibelius no longer hangs or crashes in rare cases when clicking ‘Music Fonts’ in Edit Symbols.
  • The Inspector and Timeline panel sizes and positions are now saved along with the other panels. See File > Preferences > Files in the “Windows Sizes and Positions” section. This means that it is now possible to hide the timeline by default just like you can with other panels, which has been a longstanding request since it appeared in Sibelius 7.5.0.
  • A problem has been fixed where some keyboard shortcuts didn’t work correctly on macOS Sierra.
  • Sibelius Sounds and Sibelius | First Sounds now correctly install on macOS Sierra.
  • Application Manager 2.5.11 is now included in the Sibelius and First 8.5 installers.

 

Try Sibelius 8.5 and upgrade

If you’d like to try Sibelius 8.5 before you buy, you can download the 30-day trial. If you are using Sibelius 7.5 or earlier, and wish to upgrade, you can do so from any of our approved resellers and distributors, or from our online webstore.

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Sibelius | First Now Available — What’s New?

Today we’re releasing a brand new version of Sibelius First.

As you may have read, we’ve been hard at work tying the Sibelius and Sibelius | First build processes together. We’re now in a position, that every time we spin a new Sibelius build, we also get a Sibelius | First build. That means that Sibelius | First is now set to automatically take advantage of the new features and improvements that we add to Sibelius as we go along. Because we have been adding a ton of features to Sibelius over the last 14 months or so, the new Sibelius | First 8 offers you a host of new features and hundreds of improvements to improve your workflow.

Here’s a tour of the new features that we’ve added with Sibelius | First 8.

What’s new in Sibelius | First

Rest collision avoidance and musical grouping

Sibelius | First now includes the same rest collision avoidance feature that we introduced in Sibelius 8.1. The feature is switched on by default so no extra setup of your score is required. You’ll see that, unlike in older versions of Sibelius First, rests now magically avoid collisions with notes as you input and edit notes.

When working in multiple voices, you’ll see that rests are now automatically vertically grouped with the pitches of surrounding notes.

New rest positioning and collision avoidance in Sibelius | First.  Notice how the vertical positioning of the rests now flows automatically with the pitches of surrounding notes.

The same musical example in Sibelius 7.5, with the differences in rest positioning highlighted in red.

The result is clearer, more beautiful (and correct!) notation without having to manually adjust it yourself by hand—a process that can be a time consuming and error prone. Of course, if you don’t like the way that Sibelius | First places your rests, you can simply move them just as you did before.

When creating Nth time ending lines in older versions of Sibelius First, you might have found that you continually needed to adjust the bounds of the lines to make them line up correctly with the bar beneath. Well, no longer! We’ve adjusted the system so that an Nth time ending lines now aligns perfectly with the bar beneath it every time, with no extra adjustment required from you. We’ve also adjusted the way that repeat bar lines and time signatures are displayed on your score, so that they are now in the correct order.

In older versions of Sibelius time signatures and repeat bar lines would be displayed in the incorrect order

In Sibelius | First, this is now corrected such that repeat bar lines and and coinciding time signatures appear like this

Slide and move notes in time

Ever wanted to move a note or a rest within time in Sibelius? Now you can with the Slide notes and rests feature—all without having to use your mouse or use cut-and-paste.

 

How it works

Moving a note or selection

  1. Select a note or passage in Sibelius
  2. Use Command + Alt + Left/Right (Mac) or Control + Alt + Left/Right (Win) to move your selection left or right

How Sibelius decides how far to move your selection

A selection will move by the minimum of the following:

  1. The duration of the adjacent note or rest.
  2. The duration of the selected note, rest or passage
  3. The duration of the bottom figure (denominator) of the time signature.

The result is that Sibelius will in most cases move your selection by a musically appropriate amount, given the current time signature and the length of your selection.

Collisions with existing notation

If you slide your selection into existing notation, Sibelius will swap your selection with the notes at the destination.

Handling tuplets

Sliding of tuplets is not currently supported. If you attempt to slide a passage in a way that would cause a tuplet to be modified (i.e, it’s either part of your selection or adjacent to it), then Sibelius will not slide your selection, and will display a message to indicate this limitation. We are hoping to improve this in a future release.

Moving notes in action

In all these examples, select the note or passage and type Command + Alt + Right (Mac) or Control + Alt + Right (Win) to move the notes.

Individual notes

Moving a selection

Moving a selection with multiple voices and/or staves

It’s possible to slide passage selections that cover notes in multiple voices and even span several staves. At all times, Sibelius maintains the musical integrity of your selection so that any important harmonic or rhythmic relationships are kept intact as you slide.

During note input

The ability to move notes without exiting note input mode is very useful indeed! The note input cursor moves with you as you slide, so you can quickly get notes down and continue right away—no need to exit note input mode, or reach for your mouse.

1. Enter the first note of your phrase

2. Enter the next note

3. Slide to the right

4. Continue composing right where you left off

Multiple staff sizes

Sibelius 8.4 added two new staff sizes—Sibelius | First gets them too! There are now four staff sizes for you to choose from, which can be selected from the Add/Remove instruments dialog.

 

Changing the staff size of your instruments

The quickest way to change the staff size of an instrument is from the Add or Remove Instruments dialog. Let’s say, for example, that we’d like to add a rehearsal piano “instrument” to an unaccompanied choral piece:

1. Press the I key on your keyboard to display the Add or Remove Instruments dialog.
2. Find Piano from the left hand list, select it and click Add to Score.
3. Piano will be added to the list on the right, just like before.
4. Select piano on the right, and you’ll see a staff sizes drop down box becomes available to you.
5. Click the staff size dropdown, and you’ll see the four staff sizes listed. The default staff size for that instrument is denoted with “instrument default” (more on that later).
6. Select the small staff size for both the right hand and left hand staves of your piano.
7. Click OK.

The piano, with small staff size, is now added to your score.

Note that, when adding instruments to your score, Sibelius always chooses the instrument default for you, meaning that if you don’t need to change the staff size of your instruments, saving you an extra step in your workflow.

The four different staff sizes you can now choose in Sibelius | First

General improvements

There are also a host of other smaller improvements and fixes that are now included in Sibelius | First:

  • Espressivo 2 for more realistic, expressive playback
  • A Tempo marking now returns to the last tempo change
  • Support for high density displays on Windows
  • Added support for Windows 8 and 10
  • Added support for macOS 10.11 El Capitan and 10.12 Sierra
  • 64-bit only architecture
  • Multi-touch support for the Microsoft Surface Pro and Apple track pads (and other touch-compatible devices)
  • Avid Application Manager – a centralized location to manage your licenses, replacing Avid License Control
  • Over 200 general stability improvements

 

Flexible licensing options

Sibelius | First now comes in the same two licensing flavours that you find in Sibelius: perpetual and subscription (available on month-to-month and annual plans). The annual subscription starts at $59.88 a year (that’s $4.99 a month!). Sibelius | First is still available as a perpetual license as well, which works the same as Sibelius: you purchase a perpetual license to keep, and included in your purchase is year’s worth of upgrades. After one year, you can choose to renew your annual support contract for $39 to continue to receive software upgrades. Note that your perpetual license never expires, so you’ll always be able to use your Sibelius | First software at the last version you’ve downloaded—even if you allow your upgrade plan to lapse in the future.

 

Sibelius | First and Sibelius Comparison

Sibelius First is intentionally designed to be a much simpler product than it’s bigger brother, Sibelius. As such, you won’t find some of the more finely grained controls that we have added in Sibelius in the last few years, including:

 

  • Annotation – files containing annotations opened, but you can’t add your own annotations
  • Timeline – this is not included in Sibelius First
  • Respell Accidentals in parts – scores from Sibelius will open with differences in parts, however it’s not possible to respell an accidental in Sibelius | First without it updating the full score too
  • Multiple Staff Sizes – You can choose from the four staff sizes in the Instruments dialog, but as there’s no Engraving Rules in Sibelius First, it’s not possible to customise these sizes
  • Rests avoid notes – on by default in Sibelius First, but again cannot be customised since there is no Engraving Rules dialog

 

Once again, it’s been a pleasure to work on Sibelius, especially with such a dedicated and hard-working team here at Avid. We’ve put in a lot of work to build a firm foundation for the future, and I’m looking forward to sharing the fruits of our labours with you as we release more regular updates to Sibelius | First (and Sibelius of course too!). I hope you enjoy working with the newly updated Sibelius | First.

Music Composition Starts Here
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Sibelius—A Look Ahead

I’m writing this on my return from a week spent with the development team we have in Montreal, Canada. They are currently beavering away on Sibelius, Sibelius | First and Sibelius Cloud Publishing, to bring new functionality and features to all of them. However, these are no longer applications with their own roadmaps, source control streams, and build jobs. These applications—as well as our License Server, Avid Scorch for iOS, and the iOS SDK (which allows anyone to build their very own iPad app to handle native Sibelius files)—are now all on the same roadmap, and share the same code and build jobs.

Our developers have been working hard on unifying the Sibelius applications and solutions. Previously, the apps all had varying degrees of separation from Sibelius, and their own build jobs, meaning we couldn’t update them all without reapplying and replicating the work multiple times.

The new Sibelius | First built on the current Sibelius 8 code

In recent releases of Sibelius, we’ve been introducing the ability to define new staff sizes, color notes individually, and so on. And those with keen eyes, and an iPad, will have noticed updates to Avid Scorch to support these new features as well. Our applications are now unified, which means that once we add features to the main version of Sibelius and kick off a new build, all of our related apps are built all at the same time with support for the new feature we will have just added, without having to write any more lines of code. This gives us the flexibility to quickly release new versions of all our apps, or just one or two, depending on how suitable the feature is. You’ll soon see new versions of Sibelius | First and Sibelius Cloud Publishing, which will complete this transition.

Avid Scorch for iOS mixer allows you to adjust the playback of your Sibelius score right from your iPad

Scorch for iOS also allows you to change instruments to suit you

What does this all mean for you? Well, we used to release upgrades and new features every two years, and we’re now releasing new features every few months. The goal is to continue to release the larger features every few months, but also release smaller fixes when they are ready—saving you from waiting for an important fix you need to help your workflow.

As well as removing a huge amount of technical debt, this allows the whole development team to focus on the features for the right application, and not worry about how the other applications will inherit that change. It frees up the whole team to be more focused on bringing you world class solutions for creating, orchestrating, educating, editing, engraving, and finally, publishing—using just one toolset.

The Scorch iOS bookshelf view allows you to browse your scores, each with its own cover art—and Scorch comes with several free scores to get you started

The Avid Scorch store provides you with a marketplace of hundreds of thousands of paid and free scores of the world's most popular music for you to download and enjoy, with hundreds of new scores added every week

As I wrap up my trip, I’m filled with excitement for the year ahead. We have a solid roadmap for the remainder of the year and a host of ambitious new features coming in 2017 that I can’t wait for you to start using.

Composing to video: both Sibelius and Sibelius | First allow you to embed a video into your score—playback of your score is then synchronized with the playback of the video, and you can even add hit points that synchronize certain points in your score to important moments in your film

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Three Things: Magnetic Layout

It is always great to learn new techniques that speed up your workflow in an application you’ve been using for a while isn’t it? In this series of blog posts, I’m going to stick to three things on a topic that I believe will help speed up your work flow.

 

A feature with great attraction!

Magnetic layout is a very powerful feature that is often misunderstood. It automatically positions notation items in your score to carefully calculated positions horizontally and vertically to avoid collisions. But some users find it a frustrating when objects are placed in unexpected or unwanted positions. Let’s see if I can give you a few tips that will let you use magnetic layout to your advantage.

 

One: You can just turn it off for the whole score

Occasionally a colleague will call me and say, “I just want to turn it off!” Well if that is what you really want to do, you certainly can.

Go to the Layout Tab > Magnetic Layout.

Just click on that yellow box with the magnet that says “Magnetic Layout,” it will turn white. Now the Magnetic Layout feature is completely disabled on your score. The position of all your score objects will be at the default positions and stay there, even if they collide with another object.

 

Two: You can turn off a specific type of object

Maybe you’ve turned it off completely and realized, it’s not so bad and there is just one type of object that is causing your problems. A good example may be bar numbers. As you can see in this example, the bar numbers are not sitting up close to the bottom of the staff, which is their default position.

Go to Layout Tab > Magnetic Layout. Click on the edit box in the bottom right corner and the window below appears. Click on the “Object Type” header and the column will automatically be sorted into alphabetical order. Select “Bar number” and uncheck the “Mag.” box.

Now Magnetic Layout is turned off on just bar numbers in your score.

Three: You can turn off just one specific object

The first two tips are really unnecessary in the majority of cases where I run into Magnetic Layout hiccups. There is a lot of programming going on behind the scenes, but one thing it does is to group similar objects horizontally. You will often see this happening to chord symbols, lyrics, and expressions. The problem that often crops up is when one of these objects is moved out of position by a note, forcing the other similar objects on the same staff system out of position. In this example, the lyrics in the first 2 bars are forced lower by the lyric “Me!” in the third bar.

The first instinct many users have is to start dragging the lyrics in the first two bars up. You will find this technique counter productive. The lyrics in the first two bars are not the problem. Turning off Magnetic Layout off for just “Me!” will do the trick. To do that, click on “Me!” Go to Layout Tab > Magnetic Layout and click on the pull down menu next to Object and select “off”.

A faster way to do the same thing is click on “Me!” and then opt click (right click) and you can turn off Magnetic Layout from the contextual menu. Now all the lyrics pop back up to the default position. “Me!” is now colliding with the note but you can easily drag it into the desired position.

This technique works well with lyrics, expressions, chord symbols, other text, and lines as well. The trick is to find the object that is forcing the others out of position. But it’s pretty easy to spot if you to scan horizontally along the staff until you see the object that is closest to a note. That is the one to turn off. Remember that you can also select two or more objects and turn them all off at the same time as needed. Once you learn to work with Magnetic Layout, you will find that it is an indispensable feature!

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